Miranda of the Balcony Part 38

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"The tide has turned," said Warriner, and the Brixham man dived hurriedly into the well for the poor fog-horn which the boat carried.

The cutter drifted out stern-foremost past the Lizard rocks, and in a little, from this side and from that, ahead of them, astern, they heard the throb of engines and the hoa.r.s.e steam-whistles of the Atlantic cargo-boats and liners. They had drifted across the track of the ocean-going steamers. The Brixham man blew upon his horn till his lungs cracked. He relates that nothing happened until three o'clock in the morning, as he knows, since Warriner just at three o'clock took his watch from his pocket and looked at the dial by the lantern-light.

He mentions too, as a detail which struck him at the time, that the door of the lantern was open, and so still was the heavy air that the candle burnt steadily as in a room. At three o'clock in the morning he suddenly saw a glimmering flash of white upon the cutter's beam. For a fraction of a second he was dazed. Then he lifted the horn to his mouth, and he was still lifting it--so small an interval was there of time--when a huge sharp wedge cut through the fog and towered above the cutter out of sight. The wedge was the bows of an Atlantic liner.

No one on that liner heard the despairing, interrupted moan of the tiny fog-horn beneath the ship's forefoot; no one felt the shock. The Brixham man was hurled clear of the steamer, and after swimming for the best part of an hour was picked up by a smack which he came upon by chance. Warriner's body was washed up three days later upon the Lizard rocks.

This history did not reach Charnock's ears for a full year afterwards; for within a week of his arrival in London, where his unexplained disappearance had puzzled very few, since he was known for a man of many disappearances, he had started off to Asia Minor, there to survey the line of a projected railway. The railway was never more than projected, and after a year the survey was abandoned. Charnock returned to London and heard the story of Warriner's death from Lady Donnisthorpe's lips at her last reception at the end of the season.

Lady Donnisthorpe was irritated at the impa.s.sive face with which he listened. She was yet more irritated when he said casually, without any reference whatever to a word of her narrative, "Who is that girl?

I think I have seen her before."

Lady Donnisthorpe followed the direction of his eyes, and saw a young girl with very pale gold hair. Lady Donnisthorpe rose from her chair.

"Perhaps you would like me to introduce you," she said with sarcastic asperity.

"I should," replied Charnock.

Lady Donnisthorpe waved her hands helplessly and brushed away all mankind. She led Charnock across the room, introduced him, and left him with a manner of extreme coldness, to which Charnock at this moment was quite impervious.

"I think I have seen you here before," said Charnock.

"Yes," said the girl, "I remember. It was some while since. Why have you quarrelled?"

The meaning of that question dawned upon Charnock gradually. The girl with the gold hair smiled at his perplexity, and laughed pleasantly at his comprehension.

Charnock looked round the room.

"No," said she.

He looked towards the window, and the window was open.

"Yes," said the girl.

Charnock found Miranda upon the balcony.


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Miranda of the Balcony Part 38 summary

You're reading Miranda of the Balcony. This manga has been translated by Updating. Author(s): A. E. W. Mason. Already has 896 views.

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